There was no shortage of interest as the pits filled up on Sunday morning for Round 3 of Waterford Raceway’s Driver of the Year championship – new cars and drivers were sprinkled through the classes and, although there were still a few regulars missing, the numbers were looking good overall with 52 drivers signed on in 47 cars. The brief April heatwave had ended with some overnight rain, but the sun was back out as we arrived at The Pike, accompanied by a fresh breeze to make perfect conditions. The hard work that some of the club members had been putting in was evident with a different landscape provided by the new tyre wall at the Pike end of the track, plus a neat new “parc fermé” area at the track exit.


The racing, sponsored by SLB Manufacturing and Woodcraft, thanks to Bob Donovan, started with a very fast and competitive field in CLASS 1. Raymond D’Arcy made a very welcome return thanks to the loan of Jamie Condon’s Micra. Raymond won the first heat, but visited the scenery in the second race after the steering column came unbolted. A great effort saw the car back out for the final, only to pick up a puncture on the first lap. Ronan Foley stepped up from the Juniors and won the second heat, under pressure from Shane Dillon until Shane disappeared in a cloud of oil smoke. Fortunately the Co Clare-based Shane, first time out with a new Starlet after a wreck last year, was also back for the final, holding on for a close win over Ronan, Michael Baldwin and Jamie Bowen. Ronan won overall from Shane and Michael, with other contenders being Anthony Cronin’s Micra and Ronan Coughlin’s Starlet.


CLASS 2 unfortunately lost Stephen Healy with elusive electrical problems, but Kenneth McCoy was on good form in his 16-valve Fiat-powered Starlet. Second to Eddie Baldwin’s Micra in heat one, Kenneth lost out again to Eddie in heat two thanks to losing his exhaust. It was Eddie’s turn to have problems in the final, which Kenneth won from Jack Pollard’s Nissan-powered Starlet. Eddie took the overall win from Jack and Kenneth, with Michael Coughlin completing the class.


CLASS 3 just featured regular sparring partners Alan D’Arcy and Ronan Waters, but being mixed with the similar, but bigger engined, CLASS 5, produced spectacular racing from the screaming Starlets. Ronan led the first heat until he picked up a puncture while battling with Andy Foley’s Class 5. Alan D’Arcy also mixed it with the bigger cars but was then handicapped by a lack of brakes after a wheel bearing problem. Ronan won the second heat and then saved the best to last, with Class 2 also joining this group for the final. Ronan fended off Andy O’Brien as they caught and passed leader Kenneth McCoy in the closing stages. Andy Foley and Andy O’Brien had a win each in the Class 5 heats, but their usual close racing in the final saw Andy O’Brien in the wall to bring out the reds, with Andy Foley excluded from the rerun. Keith O’Brien’s bad luck continued with a smoky departure from the first heat. Ronan took the Class 4 trophy from Alan, and Andy O’Brien won Class 5 from Andy Foley.


CLASS 4 had a six car field with Pat Nolan and Dave Browne joining in, driving the Starlets raced by the Egan sisters. Kieran Cooney took two good heat wins in his Micra-Honda, and after a close fight with Pat, took a third win to take the class overall, with Pat and Peadar Wall in his RWD 1600 Hot Rod sharing second place. Alan Houlihan completed the podium after appearing with a 1400 SOHC Vtec Civic, which looked a very competitive addition to the class, while Brian Weston’s 205 reappeared in its eye-catching new yellow livery and completed the day unscathed.


CLASS 6 brought out four Outlaw Hot Rods – enough for some very spectacular action. Martin Fitz won the first heat after a battle with Davy Wall and Donie Linehan ended with Davy breaking a halfshaft. Davy had more drama in the next race as a broken wishbone bracket sliced through a brake pipe! The final saw Brian Whelan on good form with his Nissan-powered 205 holding the lead until the closing stages, when Martin Fitz completed a hat-track of wins. Martin won overall from Brian and Donie.


The ROOKIE JUNIORS featured a nicely presented new Micra for Ross Ryan, who scored his first win in the first heat. As usual the Rookies shared the wins around, with Brian Scannell taking the second heat and Liam Kiersey the final. Ross was the overall winner from Liam and Brian, with Conor Fitz and Toby McGuire also well in contention.


The JUNIOR PRODUCTION cars again provided close battling through the field, although not so much for the wins as Aidan Heney escaped to win all three races. Evin Harding was close behind in the first two, but was involved in the battling pack in the final, where Ben Furlong took second from Joey Dilworth, Evin, Eoghan Doherty, Darragh Walsh, David Browne and Darragh Healy. Tadgh Foley didn’t make the final while Luke O’Donovan was again unlucky with his Micra and didn’t start a race.


The JUNIOR MODIFIEDS were down to three drivers this time, and two of them completed the day in borrowed cars! Mark O’Connor didn’t even make the start of the first race, but the race was soon red flagged to allow him to rejoin in Anita Pollard’s car, Anita returning the favour after borrowing Mark’s car a few weeks ago. It was a close enough battle to begin with, between Jack Hickey and Jack Maher, but after winning the first heat Jack Hickey slowed with engine gremlins in heat two, reappearing for the final in Anthony Cronin’s Micra. Jack Maher won the final, and the class overall, with Mark second and Jack Hickey third


Although the LADIES were missing a couple of the regulars, they were joined by Marie Thompson, having her first outing in a very smart 1.3 Starlet. Marie made a steady start and got quicker all day, ending up second overall behind the unbeaten Katie Egan. Jamie Egan’s Starlet came out looking as good as new after its big shunt last time, but wouldn’t run cleanly until the end of the day, so Jamie had a couple of runs in Andy Foley’s car.


CLASS 1B went out with the Ladies, and Shane Harding took all three races, although not without a controversial tangle in heat two, when Willie Heney ended up sandwiched between Shane and Martin Morrissey’s little Suzuki Alto, resulting in Shane heading for the marshals’ post. Shane took the class from Martin, with the Suzuki proving good value on its debut. Much of Martin’s day was spent dicing with the well prepared 1.4 Focus of Joe Dilworth, the only entry in the STOCKS class, making its debut after being built for grass racing at Midleton.


The day ended with eight takers for the HELPERS’ RACE. Anita Pollard, having again been too busy in race control to race with the ladies, was reunited with her Starlet and held on to win from the rapidly closing Kevin Healy, in Martin Fitz’ Colt, and Jamie Condon, back in his own Micra. Adrian Power took fourth in Evin Harding’s Micra, and then came Stephen Healy (in Darragh’s Micra) , Wayne Dwyer in Jamie Bowen’s Micra and Rally Hally in the Heneys’ Micra. John Ivers had a go in the Starlet that Marie was racing, but had to pull off.


There’s another four weeks’ wait now until Round 4, on 20 May, with a practice day scheduled for the 19th to make the Pike’s first double-header of the year.